Victoria's Secret Launches Its Most Diverse Ad Campaign Featuring Transgender and Curvy Models

Victoria’s Secret 2.0 is here.

Following a slew of controversies — including criticism for lack of diversity, a decline in sales, the cancellation of the brand’s iconic runway show and sexual harassment accusations against former chief marketing officer Ed Razek — the lingerie company is ushering in a new era with its “Body by Victoria” spring 2020 campaign, which stars models of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors.

What’s more, the ad photos (shot by runway legend and veteran Victoria’s Secret Angel Helena Christensen) feature the brand’s first-ever transgender model, Valentina Sampaio. The inclusive casting choice made under new CEO John Mehas is especially significant for Victoria’s Secret, as Razek came under fire in 2018 for telling Vogue he would not cast trans models in the annual fashion show because the show is “a fantasy” (he later apologized).

Along with Sampaio and Christensen, the campaign also stars Joan Smalls, Babara Palvin, Jasmine Tookes, Lais Ribeiro, Romee Strijd, Daniela Pestova, Candice Huffine and Solange Van Doorn. The models look cool and comfy modeling new silhouettes and colorways of “Body by Victoria,” Victoria’s Secret’s best-selling collection of Memory Fit-lined bras.

Sampaio became Victoria’s Secret’s first-ever trans model in August 2019, and the company announced its first-ever curvy model, Ali Tate Cutler, one month later.

“I feel like they are headed in the right direction and they are listening to their audience who have requested to see more women of diverse shapes and sizes,” Cutler previously told E! of the historic gig. “I think if they continue to head in that direction, they will be on to a jackpot because that is reflective of what the average woman is in America.”

In February, the brand made headlines when more than 100 models signed an open letter to Victoria’s Secret CEO John Mehas, urging the company to “take concrete action to change its culture of misogyny and abuse.”

The letter referenced The New York Times‘ recent exposé that accused Victoria’s Secret former CEO Ed Razek of sexual harassment, bullying and creating a culture of misogyny.

Razek denied the allegations in the recent The New York Times‘ article, telling the Times in an email that “the accusations in this reporting are categorically untrue, misconstrued or taken out of context,” adding, “I’ve been fortunate to work with countless, world-class models and gifted professionals and take great pride in the mutual respect we have for each other.”

In response to the Model Alliance letter, an L Brands spokesperson told PEOPLE: “We absolutely share a common goal with Model Alliance to ensure the safety and well-being of models. Our robust Photo Shoot Procedures, including training and oversight, were implemented in May 2019 and reflect elements of the RESPECT Program and beyond. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and remain committed to continuous improvement. We’re always open to engage with those looking to make improvements in the industry.”

The new “Body by Victoria” products were originally set to launch in stores and online. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Victoria’s Secret recently announced it is temporarily closing its online store until March 29 as well as all retail locations in the U.S. and Canada (associates impacted by the decision will still be paid, according to a statement on the company’s website).

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“We ask for your understanding during this time relative to orders you may have placed that have not yet been fulfilled. Our customer care team will be sending out update emails in the next few days regarding order status,” the statement says. “Our thoughts remain with you and your families during this unprecedented time. Stay well and we look forward to opening our doors and our site again soon.”

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